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Virgil - Aeneid > Aeneid Book 8

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message 1: by Thomas (new)

Thomas | 4430 comments The end of Book 7 leaves us prepared for the clash between the Trojans and the Italians, but reading on into Book 8 we are met with an unexpected detour. Rather than bracing for battle, Aeneas falls asleep beside the river. The river god Tiberinus appears to him and instructs him to pay a visit to Evander, who is an Arcadian "from the same stock as Atreus' two sons." He is to make an alliance with these Greeks. (How is Juno going to feel about this?)

When Aeneas arrives in the city that would later become Rome, Evander and his tribe are celebrating the rite of Hercules. (Herakles in Greek, meaning "glory of Hera," who is Juno.) Vergil tells the story of Hercules and Cacus, one of the early myths of Rome.

This is followed by what amounts to a tour of landmarks that would later become famous in Roman history, and the book ends with the story of how Aeneas' armor was made. There are obvious parallels here with the Iliad -- both sets of armor are made by Vulcan, but there are distinct differences between the stories told on Achilles' shield and Aeneas' shield. It might also be worth comparing the details on Aeneas' shield with the details on the temple of Juno described in Book 1.

message 2: by Thomas (new)

Thomas | 4430 comments I read an essay the other day that describes that even-odd variation as a "wave" structure. I can relate to that.

message 3: by Thomas (new)

Thomas | 4430 comments Patrice wrote: "Yes, I can see that too Thomas. It's almost as though he gives us (or himself?) a rest between books. Still, I can't help wondering if this might not be the reason he wanted it burned ...still lo..."

There is a nice, short interview with Sarah Ruden at Open Letter Monthly (OL) where she talks about this a bit:

OL: What other sympathies did you discover in Vergil, in the course of rendering his book into English? What were your major revelations, confirmations, surprises?

SR: I found that there are ways he harmonizes with English. We think of Latin and Italian as smooth. Maybe Italian is, and maybe ordinary Latin is, but Vergil’s Latin is crunchy, particularly in the enjambments and the conflict of accent and ictus (which means that the meter and the accented syllables don’t match).

But what keeps you awake at night is that he’s a real, honest-to-goodness genius. He’s not always good, and in commenting on this unfinished poem, scholars sometimes can’t restrain themselves from voicing the scholarly version of “This line is dippy.” But Vergil couldn’t have written an uninteresting, trite line if you’d tortured him to death. In a cerebral way, that’s how he appears to have died, in agony at the mere possibility that he could just write something in the blank spaces, finish up and forget about it, like other authors.

The interview is worth reading in its entirety:

message 4: by Adelle (new)

Adelle | 127 comments Ah, no!

Yes, hoary-headed Tiberinus does tell Aeneis "address your prayers in proper form to Juno, Melt with your pleas her menaces and anger."

Which implies that Aenes, if he prays properly, will melt Juno's anger.
Juno, I think, is still angry.

And then, too, Tiberinus ALSO tells Aeneas, "now is no time to let go, or give way/ To fear at threats of war. Angers that rose / Among the gods have passed,"

Jump to Book 9

message 5: by Adelle (new)

Adelle | 127 comments I wasn't enthralled with the description of the shield either. For me, this was a section in which Virgil seemed to drone on. The description didn't catch my interest until those last 4 or 5 lines:

"All these images on Vulcan's shield,
His mother's gift, were wonders to Aeneas.
Knowing nothing of the events themselves,
He felt joy in their pictures, taking up
Upon his shoulder all the destined acts
And fame of his descendants" (Fitz 8.987+)

And I wondered how much this shield might help Aeneis.

Here the shield is described as "Vulcan's shield." When Achilles fought, Vulcan may have made the shield, but it was never Vulcan's shield. It was Achilles' shield. Indeed, the entire chapter was "The Shield of Achilles." I really like the idea of a man fighting with his own arms.

And like you, Patrice, the images didn't resonate.
Achilles may have been fighting for Patroklos, but he held in his hand the life he and Patroklos had lived--"the earth and ...the sky and the sea...Orion in all his power...weddings...armies...shepherds playing their hearts out...honeyed, mellow wine...and harvest...and the Ocean River." Aeneas can only "wonder" at the images, "knowing nothing of the events themselves."

Those words--"images," "pictures"--took me back to Book 1: Aeneas sees wall of the temple to Juno at Carthage and as Virgil describes it, Aeneas sees "a mere image" (Fitz 1.633). Another translation read "empty image."

I don't know why exactly this bothers me but it does. It does.

Maybe ??? something to do with those next two lines. I don't know.

Here's Aeneas "taking up
Upon his shoulder all the destined acts
And fame of his descendants." I couldn't help but think of Aeneas taking up Anchises upon his shoulder...and acting on behalf of Ascanius. Somehow it would have been more 20th century authentic like had Aeneas been living his own life and fighting for what he believed in himself rather than dedicating his life to his father and son. Where's Aeneas's life?

(I know. Aeneas exemplifies pietas. Rome held up the example of Aeneas, dedication to duty, devotion to the "hard and huge task" of founding and maintain the Roman people. And Rome ultimately had long years of relative peace for the people of Rome...maybe even the people of Italy. But I like Achilles better than Aeneas.

message 6: by Ben (new)

Ben (ben77) | 13 comments Patrice wrote: "I just finished reading the description of the shield for the first time. I really did not like it! It annoyed me.
What came to mind was Aristotle's comment that poetry is superior to history beca..."

Yes, propoganda. That nags at me throughout the poem, but in this area it is particularly blantant. I just read/listened to Book 8, and I agree the over-the-top singing the praises of future-Rome is annoying.

message 7: by Adelle (new)

Adelle | 127 comments Do you suppose that it might have been a cultural aspect? As in maybe the culture of that time in Roman ran towards fulsome, full, praises of Rome?

message 8: by Adelle (new)

Adelle | 127 comments And maybe what is written during vulnerable times is more full of praise, because the people need something, someone, to believe in??

message 9: by Adelle (new)

Adelle | 127 comments ;)

Yes. I appreciate what you say. Seven layers. That's about all I remember of the shield.

message 10: by Thomas (new)

Thomas | 4430 comments Patrice wrote: "And since I'm not Roman and don't hold any kind of affection for Rome, the sentiment expressed in the shield fell on deaf ears. But, the fact is, it doesn't move me. Achilles shield really did. ..."

Do you suppose it's possible that Vergil intended the sentiment to fall on deaf ears? I have to wonder why this bit of propaganda falls so flat when we know how powerful Vergil's poetry can be.

message 11: by Thomas (new)

Thomas | 4430 comments I'm certain that if it was subversive that Augustus never saw it that way, if only because Vergil died a natural death. But it's also possible that it was just obligatory propaganda and Vergil didn't think it worth the effort. But I think he must have known that this would be obvious to those who were paying close attention.

message 12: by Adelle (new)

Adelle | 127 comments Patrice wrote: "But they did go out through the ivory gate, not the "real" horn gate.

I agree. That MUST be significant in some way or other.

But listen, on the shield, I was browsing through "Rome," at the local bookstore, reading the chapter on the foundation of Rome, and I ran across two interesting factoids.

Regarding the shield. The author wrote that ... I'm quoting from memory, but I'm close..that "time out of mind, Rome and the shield have always been linked." Which leads me to believe that it wasn't simply Virgil echoing Homer with the story of the shield, but that his Roman audience would have absolutely expected a story, perhaps "the" story, of the sheild.

Also, from Book 1 or 2...remember that Venus reassured Aeneis that his men were safe ... that 12 birds had flown by represnting the 12 ships reaching safety. (And neglecting to address that fact that Aeneis had had 13 ships...that one was lost.) So in the Rome book, I read that in the mythology of the foundation of Rome, 12 birds had flown by and the seers thereby knew that Rome would be successful. So here, too, Virgil's audience would have seen connections that we don't see.

The Rise of Rome: The Making of the World's Greatest Empire

message 13: by Adelle (new)

Adelle | 127 comments I googled around a bit, and there are usually a little over 12 full moons per a natural year would have had 12 "months."

However, the Romulus calendar had 10 months.

And then for a while they had 6 months (They got rid of the "unluckly" odd months.

And the calendar was redone again under Julius Ceasar:

Julius Caesar, as Pontifex Maximus, reformed the calendar in 46 BC, which became known as the Julian calendar. The calendar reforms were completed during the reign of his successor Augustus, who renamed Quintilis as Iulius (July) in honour of Julius Caesar in 44 BC and Sextilis as Augustus (August) in honour of Augustus in 8 BC.

The Romans of the Republic, like the Etruscans, used a "market week" of eight days, marked as A to H in the calendar

The calendar year originally began on 1 March, as is shown by the names of the six months following June (Quintilis = 5th month, Sextilis = 6th month, September = 7th month etc.). It is not known when the start of the calendar year was changed to 1 January.

message 14: by Adelle (new)

Adelle | 127 comments :) LOL, I went down the Moon Path because I thought that was what you were telling me when you brought up months. So really, it was your idea. Funny about numbers, how some numbers have more power. I can understand with prime numbers, you know, 3, and 5; and 10 I can understand, since we have 10 fingers. But yeah, the examples you gave, 12 must be a powerful number, too.

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